Eclipse 1936: 祇園の姉妹

The final Criterion Eclipse box set! The end is nigh!

So only four more posts to go in this blog series.

This is kinda fun — virtually all other Japanese films I’ve seen in this blog series has cinematography that’s so composed, one way or another. With Ozu everything is tidy and symmetrical, and Naruse is never able to resist the impulse to dolly the camera up into everybody’s nostrils, but here everything seems, well, sloppy and natural.

It’s refreshing.

Even the lighting sometimes looks natural.

This is quite amusing, and feels fresh and unfussy.

Uhm uhm, I think I have to disagree with the liner notes on the DVD — it says that the film is on the side of the prostitutes sorry I mean geishas — but it’s kinda not? The story is about a young prostitute breaking the rules: She “cheats” on her client with another guy, and then he basically breaks her bones, and the movie ends with the scene above.

So while Mizoguchi may be sympathetic to their plight, the movie is saying “if you step out of line, you get beaten up, and ‘the system’ is to blame, not that creep who crippled a prostitute because he was in a snit”.

Sisters of the Gion. Kenji Mizoguchi. 1936.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.

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